Greece’s Socialists Win

Greece’s Socialist Party has defeated the New Democracy Party in the country’s national elections with enough seats to form a government:

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece’s Socialists, who campaigned on a promise to inject a 3 billion euro ($4.36 billion) stimulus package into the economy, have won Sunday’s national election with enough seats to form a government.

Various analysts are quoted:

Voters gave a clear, strong mandate to (PASOK leader) George Papandreou, who will now have adequate power to fight the crisis. There is no if, there is no grey area.

PASOK won’t have a long period of grace. This percentage … is more the consequence of New Democracy’s collapse than a victory for PASOK. These voters won’t forgive it if it doesn’t respond immediately to the social and the economic problems the country faces and this could result to social tension.

A parliamentary majority means we will have political stability ahead. If the final tally gives socialists 155 seats, that’s a pretty decent majority.

The new government will have a mandate to go to Brussels and ask for more time to get Greece out of the excessive deficit procedure.

I think the only way to interpret this result is that this is a hard time for ruling parties. Neither right-leaning nor left-leaning parties have clear answers to the downturn and, indeed, whichever party would have won the election’s freedom of action would have been limited very severely by Brussels. If, as I expect, sluggish economic conditions persist for any significant period of time, it’s pretty likely the ruling parties in other countries will see a reversal of their fortunes.

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Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.


  1. Triumph says:

    I think the only way to interpret this result is that this is a hard time for ruling parties.

    “The only way to interpret this” in such a fashion is if you know absolutely nothing about Greek domestic politics.

    People were not reflexively anti-incumbent in Greece. Rather, they were incredibly pissed at New Democracy’s incompetence and corruption–remember the Vadopedi monastery scandal?

    Also, the country is basically run like Obama’s Chicago–the party apparatus controls a bunch of jobs. With Karamanlis on the ropes and a 20% unemployment rate, supporters see the possibility of a reverse spoils system. Had Karamanlis not been the Greek version of Richie Daley, he would still be in power.

    As for the idea that “this is a hard time for ruling parties,” this is the most idiotic thing I have ever heard.

    Just in the past week, the CU/CSP in Germany expanded its power in the Bundestag. Earlier in the month, Stoltenberg’s coalition won in Norway–the first time in 16 years that an incumbent Prime Minister won re-election. Hell, even the hated Berisha even won re-election in June and Socrates’ coalition hung on in Portugal.

    If most European parties and their coalitions keep on winning elections, I am not sure how that constitutes a “hard time” for ruling parties.

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    I appreciate your comments, Triumph.

    The context of this post is James’s previous post on the victories won by various center-right parties in European elections lately. I don’t think this is a general trend towards the center-right but rather an anti-incumbent sentiment.

  3. floyd says:

    The Greeks have long been famous for having developed Democracy.
    Looks like the socialists will now have a chance to show the world what else the Greeks are famous for….No, not restaurants!

  4. cfpete says:

    This is from a few years ago, but I think it explains a lot about Greece:

    The Greek authorities are revising the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) after deciding that the black market should be included in the figures.

    Manolis Kontopyrakis, the head of the national statistics service, told Reuters: “The revised GDP will include some money from illegal activities, such as money from cigarette and drinks smuggling, prostitution and money laundering.”

    Greece’s economic output was €180bn (£128bn) in 2005 and is expected to rise to €194bn this year. The black economy is estimated at up to €60bn, according to Reuters.

    The new figures are the result of Greece’s determination to avoid a ticking off from the EU, which has the right to impose hefty fines on a eurozone country if its budget deficit rises above 3% of GDP.

    Joaquim Almunia, the European monetary affairs commissioner, who is used to GDP revisions of 1%-2%, is said to be wary of Greece’s action.

    His spokeswoman said yesterday that the new figures would need to be examined by Eurostat, the EU’s statistics agency.

    The move raised eyebrows in Brussels because Athens famously used false statistics to meet the Maastricht criteria, thereby allowing it to join the euro.